When I was a little boy in the mid-seventies, I idolized pop artist Andy Warhol and Peter Max. Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can and the Brillo Box that made him famous were cemented in my memory from early on.
Little did I know that some 40 years later that I would fall in love with the “Cento Tomato Brand.”Their incredible bright yellow San Marzano can supplemented with red hints of cerulean blue and green were exploding off supermarkets chains around the world. Being Italian, my family had always used the Cento brand for decades, not because of their packaging but since their San Marzano tomatoes are the finest in the world. I had no choice but to paint one of their cans in ode to Andy.
Grabbing a huge 60/48 inch canvas, I was completely memorized in studying Cento’s graphics from their can. My finished piece certainly had a pop wham factor that I quickly entitled, “Warhol Never Did Cento!” What transpired next was a series of branded paintings that caught Cento’s attention on an Instagram post. Some five years later, I can call the Cento family my good friends as they have collected more than 10 original oils from me spanning different fabulous products from their iconic brand.
More Food Pop Art
Which brings me to more food pop art.
The recent passing of incredible talent, Anthony Bourdain, floored us all. Addiction is tragic and what we see on the outside is never the truth on the inside. He will be greatly missed and I was touched and very inspired to paint him!
Next, I just had to paint Super Chef Ann Burrell and her dynamic hair. It also did not hurt that my sister-in-law happens to be great friends with her. So that was an easy presentation to Ann one summer day. I’d honestly say she was quite surprised.
Additionally, I have painted Latin food mogul Goya. I probably eat five or six cans of their assorted beans per week! Barilla pasta is also one of my favorites, but I have fallen off their fan list due to their CEO’s inflammatory comments to the LGBT community. That’s a story for another day.
Mario Batali and the Controversy Around Him
Now I will get to the controversy!
I personally presented this painting to Mario Batali impromptu at his New York restaurant, PO, about five years ago. He was somewhat caught off guard in accepting it, not every artist stalks a celebrity chef around New York in the morning in pursuit of throwing a huge pop oil painting in their face! Nonetheless, he was gracious and kind in accepting it.
Now with the “Me Too” movement in full effect and for good reason in our country, I am asking the viewers opinion on Batali if they have one. Does he deserve his current fate? Has he asked for forgiveness and restitution of his alleged sins? Does America give “Molto” a second chance? Feel free to express and share your opinions. It certainly is an important conversation.
For myself, yes, I feel Mario made some big mistakes, and at this point, I am sure that he realizes them. If the law needs to intercede, then that is okay to proceed with a trial. His enormous popularity does present him with a platform for change. The bigger question – Is he willing to take this risk to make this very painful sacrifice to step up to the plate and be a so-called spokesperson for the tumultuous restaurant industry? His efforts can go a long way towards implementing healing and a platform for healthy positive change moving forward. Only time will tell.
Now, what ice cream can I paint today!
Philadelphia’s Perry Milou is arguably one of the nation’s foremost pop artists, with collectors hailing his vibrant works for more than 20 years. He is best recognized for his pop culture contemporary art that pays tribute to global icons, Americana, and celebrities. Visit https://perrymilou.com/perry-milou-paintings/ for a glimpse of his one-of-a-kind spectacular works.